Sylven Beck

Sylven Beck
Associate Professor, Curriculum & Pedagogy
(202) 994-9084

Sylven Beck has made a career of influencing others. For the last 40 years, Dr. Beck has been a professor of elementary education at the George Washington University, instructing and mentoring some of the brightest aspiring teachers in the country. Her role at GW's Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD) is definitively prolific: she inspires and teaches students who then inspire and teach others, their own elementary students. And after 40 years and hundreds of students, Beck's impact extends nationwide. But her influence is not confined to the classroom. "Over the last 20 years, I've realized it's not about the content," she says. "Yes, you've got to teach these aspiring teachers how to teach children science and math and how to read. But first and foremost, they have to teach their children to be kind to one another, to take care of one another. This is the most important lesson I could leave with my students."

Beck's lessons of kindness permeate her life. A member of the GW Heritage Society, she donates to the university for the same reason she teaches: because one person can have a tremendous impact on the lives of others. Her strategy may not be typical in its approach, but it's exponential in its effect. She continues to teach from the heart and the Beck Endowment continues to provide much needed scholarship funds to deserving students. And the cycle of kindness endures.

"Everyone in this life can impact others for good," Beck says. "To what degree, is a decision entirely up to us."

GW Award 2015 - Jane Lingo Alumni Outstanding Service Award

Ed.D., The George Washington University
M.S. in Ed., City University of New York, City College
B.A., Marymount Manhattan College


Beck, S., Tate, P., and Giglio, A. (2002).  Meeting national standards for the program conceptual framework: An effective model of a powerful teacher education program.  In J. D. Rainer & E. M. Guyton (Eds.) Teacher Education Yearbook X: Meeting and Using Standards in the Preparation of Teachers. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Beck, S., Tate, P., & Giglio, A. (2002). Meeting national standards for the program conceptual framework: An effective model of a powerful teacher education program. In J. D. Rainer & E. M. Guyton (Eds.) Teacher Education Yearbook X: Meeting and Using Standards in the Preparation of Teachers. Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Wizer, D. R. and Beck, S. S. (1996). Using online discussions to study diversity. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 13(1), 6-11.


Beck, S. “Shaping an Excelling Staff”, Southeastern District School Administrators Conference, Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod, 2018 Feb [Keynote Speaker]

Beck, S. (2018, February). “Shaping an Excelling Staff”. Keynote presentation at the 2018 Southeastern District School Administrators Conference, Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod; Chester, VA.
Beck, S. and Tate, P. (2016, February). “Theoretical constructs that address clinical practices for developing novice teachers”. Paper presentation at the 2016 Association of Teacher Educators Annual Meeting; Chicago, IL.

In the News

GSEHD alumna Monique Sullivan (master's, Elementary Education) was highlighted in the DC Area Educators for Social Justice's online post, "Teaching How Black Lives Matter in History with Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence." The article discusses one of her history lessons at Watkins Elementary School in South

GSEHD alumna Vanessa Drumm-Canepa (master's, Elementary Education), was highlighted in The Washington Post's article, "Good things are happening at Langley Elementary. You can help." Ms. Drumm-Canepa is the principal at Langley Elementary, a DC Public School in the Eckington neighborhood, just east of North Capitol Street. Ms. Drumm-Canepa has made many improvements to Langley since starting as principal three years ago, such as introducing a program called Conscious Discipline. It’s an approach to socio-emotional learning that considers how children’s brains work and gives students the tools to “self-regulate” their behavior. Dr. Sylven Beck says, "Vanessa is a mover and shaker and has the right stuff -- we in Elementary Ed are proud to call her one of our own!"

The Elementary Education Program is pleased to announce two recipients for the 2018-2019 Beck Endowment Award—Sarah Ferris and Ida Yousofi. Both are completing their internship year and will be graduating with the Master of Education teaching degree in May 2019.
Sarah Ferris is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College with a major in Theater and became a stage actress and improviser working in New York and Washington. Sarah discovered her passion to teach young children through acting. In her own words: “One of my greatest mentors in undergrad always told our acting class, ’Only connect.’ That was it—that’s the heart, the gut, and the soul. Those two words would be our guiding principle through our rehearsals, our scene work, and our polished performances. That mantra would endure the test of time and prove to be an invaluable reminder of how I want to live and love and work. It was that same hunger for connection which transformed from a deep devotion to the theatre and performing into a deep devotion to education and teaching.”
Ida Yousofi is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a double major in Linguistics and Persian Studies, and a minor in Arabic Studies. Ida used her talents to give back to her community by working as a translator at the E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society. In her own words: “I am a child of immigrant parents. I spent my childhood mostly at home with my mother, who only spoke Persian to me. Thus, starting school was a difficult time for me because I had very little exposure to English. I was learning a new language while learning new academic concepts in school. I will always remember the teachers who were patient with me and encouraged me to overcome my obstacles. It is because of those exceptional teachers that I have been inspired to work with children.”
The Beck Endowment was created in 1996 from a gift by Dr. Gloria L. Horrworth, GSEHD professor emerita, in honor of colleague, alumna, GSEHD faculty member and program director, Dr. Sylven Seid Beck.

Dr. Sylven Beck presented on the topic of "supervision and teacher evaluation" at the annual School Administrators Conference for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod's Southeastern District. The conference was for administrators from Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina who are school principals and assistant principals, as well as directors of child development centers. Dr. Beck had assistance from Dr. Patricia Tate who, on sabbatical leave, helped her present at this all-day conference.

Elementary literacy instructor Kim Sloan led the Alumni as Experts: Elementary Education Professional Development Workshop hosted by the Office of Alumni Relations. Kim Sloan, Dr. Patricia Tate, and Dr. Sylven Beck welcomed alumni back to campus, where they had the opportunity to learn new strategies and skills in teaching literacy while networking with other GW alumni working in K-12 education.